Dana White has announced that there will be four events in 14 days on Fight Island. UFC 251 will kick off proceedings on July 12th, with three events occurring shortly afterwards. A whole host of excellent fights have been announced for these events and there is a clear trend throughout – British fighters. After UFC London was cancelled in March, many UK based fighters were unable to travel and therefore unable to be rebooked. Now that travel restrictions have been eased, Brits are looking like they’re going to take over Fight Island in July.
We looked at the first two Fight Island cards previously and now we look at each British fighter taking part in the final two Fight Island cards and give predictions on the outcomes of their match-ups.
UFC Fight Night: Figueiredo vs. Benavidez 2
Johns vs. Jackson
‘The Pikey’, Brett Johns makes his return. After a 15-0 start to his career, Johns ran into Aljamain Sterling and suffered his first loss. He then suffered another loss to Pedro Munhoz. Following this, however, after a prolonged break, he returned to the win column and finished Tony Gravely by rear-naked choke. An exciting prospect, Johns will have the entire county of Wales behind him when he steps into the octagon on Fight Island.
His opponent on July 19th is Montel Jackson. The 9-1 prospect has impressed in the UFC so far. Dropping his debut by a decision to Ricky Simon, he has gained three straight victories. He will likely hold the size advantage over Johns as he has previously fought at as high as lightweight.
Despite his momentum, Jackson will struggle in this one. Johns has had much higher competition in his career. Although it hasn’t always gone his way, it’s all a learning curve. Johns decides where this one takes place and arguably finishes this one by submission.
Alvarez vs. Duffy
The somewhat forgotten man at 155lbs, Joe Duffy makes his comeback on Fight Island. Having not competed since March of last year (a defeat), this is the first time Duffy has been scheduled since. With a 4-3 UFC record, Duffy has only lost to extremely good fighters. With losses to Dustin Poirier, James Vick and Marc Diakiese, Duffy has had high-level experience. He also holds a win over a very, very well known Irish UFC fighter…
Duffy will fight Spaniard, Joel Alvarez. The 16-2 European prospect is 1-1 in his UFC career having dropped his debut. We saw him get the W against Danilo Belluardo in June of last year. He will hold four-inch reach advantage over Duffy which could play a part.
This is a tough one to call. With Duffy’s boxing heavy approach it will likely be kept on the feet. Alvarez does have slick striking and with the longer reach advantage, it could affect the outcome. Without a win since March 2017, Duffy will be doing everything he can to get back in the win column on Fight Island.
Dawson vs. Narimani
This 150lbs catchweight bout sees 15-1 American, Grant Dawson take on England’s Nad Narimani. Narimani is a former CageWarriors featherweight champion, defeating Paddy Pimblett for the belt back in 2017. He then went 2-0 in the UFC with his wrestling heavy approach. Despite suffering his first knockout loss to Mike Grundy at UFC London last year, he returns here against Dawson.
Dawson has an impressive 11 submission victories and has only gone to a decision once in 15 victories. 3-0 in his UFC career with two finishes, Dawson has certainly impressed throughout his UFC tenure.
On paper, this is going to be a rough night for the Englishman. Dawson is solid on the ground and therefore, Narimani should be sensible and keep it standing. Although Dawson is good on the feet, Narimani arguably holds the advantage. Although he tries to knock his opponent out with every shot, Dawson may be able to capitalise on this. I can’t see a finish so probably Dawson by decision.
Diakiese vs. Fiziev
The ever-exciting Marc Diakiese makes his first octagon walk of 2020. After an up and down UFC career so far, Diakiese looks to continue his good run. After two straight UFC victories, including a 30 second knockout in his home country, Diakiese suffered three straight losses. After a rough year, he returned with wins over Joe Duffy and Lando Vannata. Having moved back to the UK to train, the ever-exciting ‘Bonecrusher’ is scheduled for the fourth time since his last outing so will be raring to go.
Rafael Fiziev is just 7-1 but is certainly exciting. Having only gone to a decision once, Fiziev knowns how to finish the fight. 1-1 in his UFC career, the Kyrgyzstan fighter will certainly struggle to deal with Diakiese’s experience.
Simply put, Diakiese should get the W here. He holds the experience advantage, has faced higher level competition and is raring to go after a number of cancelled bouts. With a reach advantage, the range striker, Diakiese should dictate this one and could even finish it by knockout.
UFC Fight Night: Whittaker vs. Till
Evloev vs. Grundy
Let’s get one thing straight, Mike Grundy deserved his UFC call up a lot sooner than last year. Debuting in London, the former Commonwealth wrestling bronze medalist dominated his way to a TKO victory. Since then, he’s been unlucky with injuries, as well as cancelled cards.
Following a TKO victory over Nad Narimani in London of last year, the Team Kaobon fighter is raring to go. With a 12-1 record, Grundy will be looking to climb up the rankings with a win over his tough Russian opponent.
Movsar Evolev is undefeated at 12-0 and will be making a third promotional appearance. Previously, he has dominated his way to two unanimous decision victories. Grundy is certainly the toughest test of Evolev’s career to date.
This is certainly an intriguing one. The shape that Grundy is in would suggest that he is ready to go for 15 hard minutes. Despite this, there is a reason that Evolev is 12-0. He is a huge talent and is a tricky customer. With both men being strong wrestlers, we could see this one play out on the feet. I’m going Grundy by close decision but wouldn’t be surprised to see it go in favour of the Russian.
Collier vs. Aspinall
Finally. Finally, big Tom Aspinall makes his UFC debut. The exciting Liverpool based heavyweight is certainly a talent. his 7-2 professional record doesn’t do his skill level justice. Training partner of WBC heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury, Aspinall has legitimate boxing skills. Despite this, his base is BJJ, so expect him to be confident wherever this one goes. Following a three year break, Aspinall returned in 2019 with back to back TKO wins.
His opponent, Jake Collier is well known to UFC fans. A veteran of six promotional bouts, with a record of 3-3. Having failed a drug test, Collier has been out of action since 2017.
Expect a huge performance out of Tom Aspinall. We can expect to see him get it done, quickly and in a standout way. Collier holds the experience, yes but the momentum is certainly with Aspinall. Collier hasn’t fought in almost three years and this will take its toll. Aspinall by KO.
Trinaldo vs. Herbert
This one has certainly gone under the radar. Debutant, Jai Herbert is set to take on veteran Francisco Trinaldo at lightweight. Herbert was set to make his debut in London in March, taking on Marc Diakiese but as we know this event never went ahead. The former Cagewarriors lightweight champion is 10-1 in his professional career. Having knocked five out of his last six opponents out, Herbert certainly has power.
We know that Trinaldo is a veteran of the sport and can turn it on when it matters. He holds impressive wins over Jim Miller and Paul Felder amongst a host of others.
Unfortunately for British MMA fans, Trinaldo likely takes this one. His experience will prove too much for Herbert leading to a unanimous decision for the Brazillian.
Whittaker vs. Till
Arguably the most intriguing main event of all four of the Fight Island cards, ‘The Gorilla’ returns to take on ‘The Reaper’. Making his successful middleweight debut in November of last year, Darren Till shot himself to the top of the division when he defeated Kelvin Gastelum. He impressed throughout his 185lbs debut and showed glimpses of what he can do when he doesn’t go through the brutal weight cut down to 170lbs. The former welterweight title challenger had a rough period, suffering two finish losses on the spin but returned triumphantly in New York.
His opponent needs no real introduction. The former middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker is simply, the real deal. Slick striking, strong wrestling and a solid mindset, the Australian is still one of the greatest middleweights out there at the moment. Although he lost his belt in his most recent outing, he is 9-1 in his last 10. On this run, he defeated the likes of Jacare Souza and Yoel Romero (TWICE).
Other Brits Taking Over
The Till/Whittaker card also features late replacements for Nathaniel Wood, who now takes on the debuting John Castaneda. Well known Scot, Paul Craig will square off against the experienced, Gadzhimurad Antigulov at 205lbs.